Christian living- dealing with one 'oops' at a time…

Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

The Knowledge of Good and Evil

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Photo by Matija Barrett

AKA: Why We Need a Savior
When King Solomon asked God for wisdom (1 Kings 3:9) he asked God to give him the ability to determine the difference between good and bad. (He assumed he would choose the good…. Ooops!) Ironically the knowledge of good and evil is what enticed Eve to eat the forbidden fruit in the garden. (At that point Adam and Eve only knew that one thing was bad- eating the forbidden fruit- and they choose to do it…) That knowledge led to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. While Solomon wanted the knowledge so he would not be deceived, and would assumedly choose good for him and the people he ruled, what we see is that when given a clear choice, without deception, humans, as a rule, are likely to choose to do what is bad at least some of the time….

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A Jaded Christmas Movie Review… Enjoy!

A Jaded Christmas Movie Review….

this post is supposed to be humor/ sarcasm. if you find yourself becoming offended…. Shake it off!

As a mother of seven, granny of four, Christmas time means re-watching the same movies I have seen over and over and over…. Some of you share my pain.

Die Hard
-a truly American Christmas story. An ex-husband risks his life to save his estranged ex-wife. A real Christmas miracle!

A Charlie Brown Christmas
-an utopian Lord of the Flies. Where are the parents? (I actually really like this one.)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (The Jim Carey version)
-the story of a dysfunctional family. It explains why we don’t invite Uncle G to Christmas. It also explains why Uncle G is ticked with the family. It is the story of why the quieter family members need to speak up before the more pushy members drive those who don’t quite fit in to wrath. The older version had a more positive message.

Frosty the Snowman
-a twisted resurrection story? Are we sure this is meant for Christmas?

Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer
-liking someone because you suddenly need them is not the same as true repentance- just saying.

The Santa Clause
-why divorce sucks for the kids. Also a great excuse for post-holiday weight gain!

It’s A Wonderful Life
-no, it isn’t. George Bailey is wonderful; everyone else takes him for granted. This is why we need to show appreciation for the good people in our lives. No one who does as much good as George Bailey should feel alone and suicidal. Stop trying to keep the obnoxious people happy and start showering the good people with love!

A Christmas Story
-it’s time to get some work done around my house when this comes on. I don’t understand this one at all. What’s up with the lamp? Get the kid some eye protection. Lot’s of angst over trivial matters…

A Christmas Carol
-at Scrooge’s age, three ghosts in one night would put him in the ER. There’s only so much an aging heart can take!

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
-unfortunately more true to life than most of us would like to admit…

Home Alone
-the local authorities couldn’t come and get the kid to a safe place before mom could get home? Really? There was no one local to call? What the heck were the parents trying to cover up that they didn’t want anyone to come to the house to help their kid?

Why There Will Never Be Income Equality

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photo by Matija Barrett

One of my USSR immigrant patients informed me that ‘equality’ only works until people realize they get paid the same for tiny potatoes as they do for big ones.

This is how I explain it to my children (remember there are 7 of them, so we have a variety of personalities…).

If I gave $100.00 to each of you every week, what would happen?

A few of you would spend it right away, and still have nothing at the end of the week. You would be complaining that you had no money for whatever you needed and would ask for more.

A few of you would not spend anything, or maybe $5 here and there for the barest neccessities (Ramen Noodles) and have a huge amount saved up at the end of the year.

And some of you would budget wisely, spend enough to meet your needs and a few wants, and save a little as well. (This is probably the happiest way to live…)

The people who spent it all on the first day would be mad that their brother who usually did not spend a dime (we know who this is in our house) had so much- it would be ‘unfair’ and he was ‘lucky.’ In their childishness they would not see how many times he sat there without a soda or other ‘extra’ while they splurged.

The people who saved would see the ones who splurged as ‘stupid’ and ‘careless’ and perhaps even label those who spent some and saved some in the same way, saying, ‘If you had been like me, you would have all this right now,’ not realizing that money is a tool, and, if used wisely, makes life more enjoyable.

Life is not fair- we all know this. But many times it is not merely what we were given, but how we use it, that determines how much we have and whether or not we enjoy ourselves.

Another life lesson that has been repeated to me by some great Bible teachers is that you cannot give what you do not have. Generosity, which is not only the giving of money, but the giving of time as well, cannot be practiced if you have neither. Working hard enough, and obtaining skills so you are paid well enough so you don’t have to work all day, is important for a balanced life. There may be sacrifices at first, but there needs to be a path and a plan to a life you will find comfortable enough to be generous as well.

Manipulation 101

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As I watch the elections, and go about my life, I am finding more and more manipulative behavior, and, sadly, I am seeing more and more supposedly very intelligent people falling for it.

So I asked myself, how do we combat this?

But let’s back up.

What do I mean by manipulative behavior?

Well, I mentioned the elections… and, on both sides, the most frequently used manipulations include tearing down a straw man- saying the candidate did, or believes, or supports, or is supported by something they do not. Now there is always a grain of truth in the straw man argument that allows people to say ‘they do so believe that way’ but it is not a whole truth, or a full representation of what the person believes. Then the media trashes the person running by making fun of what they supposedly stand for, taking sound bites or nuggets of information out of context that seemingly proves their point.

The other common logical fallacy that is prevalent today is taking things to an illogical extreme. This candidate said this therefore they must believe, or they have implied this horrible thing. If emotions were less high, every sensible person should be saying- but that is not what they meant. But, since we are whipped into an emotional frenzy we are now outraged that someone would ever say, support etc something so awful. Elections are usually pretty evenly split between the two parties- do you really believe that half of the country would back someone as awful as they are portrayed? Chances are slim and it is likely that the news sources you choose are playing on your emotions- But, do not listen to the other side’s news either, for they are doing the same thing, only since you do not like their candidate you will likely see the fault in their reporting more than you notice it in your own.

On another notes, I am also seeing this behavior on a local level. A few years ago I was part of a committee that was supposedly an important committee. We met, and seemed to make decisions; except we never actually made a decision and no one seemed to notice. We never voted. (Though I am sure the meeting notes reflected a vote… this is why approving the minutes and other parliamentary procedures are important- but we didn’t need to be formal.) Here’s what actually happened. We would meet. The group moderator, after someone made a point contrary to what he had decided would say, ‘let’s hear from the other side.’ He would end the discussion after someone from the side he agreed with spoke and then he would say something to the effect that it looks like the consensus is for whatever the last person was for (his side). Then he would move on. Since the last person who spoke affirmed what he wanted it did seem like that was the majority opinion and we were all happy to have been heard. He was very nice and understanding to those who thought differently and made everyone feel affirmed- but they were not going to overturn his agenda….

Another meeting I went to did vote, but before the vote they presented three detailed explanations for one side of the issue, and then presented responses as to why the opposition was wrong. (This was supposedly a balanced discussion.) They used a lot of emotional language that made it sound like we would be bad people to vote any other way than the position that was being presented in the positive (another common ploy). The vote was almost unanimous when the year before it was a highly contentious issue that failed. Either everyone went home and rethought the issue or their ploy worked.

The other thing I see is cooking the numbers and making them look different than they actually are. For example, in another meeting, we had one person show up from a certain population. Instead of saying only one person showed, they ran stats and said that a certain percentage of the population showed, which made it sound better than one. Not a lie, but it assumes that we are not going to do the math and realize that the percentage means one person showed up. Again, not a lie, but also not as truthful as one would like. This is where all that high school math comes in handy.

So what should we do?

We need to be teaching common logical fallacies, common manipulation techniques and statistics in a way people understand and remember. There are many books to do this from, and some historical examples of books that led to bad behavior that we should examine as to why people bought into these beliefs and how we can avoid doing so in the future. Logic is power. Mob mentality causes people to do things they would not otherwise do because their emotions rule. Right now we are being taken advantage of, and, even if you agree with the aim of the manipulation, it is still wrong. Let’s try to do better.

How can we do better. First and foremost we can stop reposting emotional, name-calling, illogical articles. If we post only content based on well-reasoned arguments and facts we will drive the media to want to create content that is less emotionally driven and more factual. Where you find such content I am not entirely sure. What I do know is that much of what hear people say is fair today is often what is leaning to their way of thinking… so be careful.

How freaky would it be to see two candidates actually debate the plusses and minuses of real plans, and concede points, agree occasionally and come up with something almost everyone could agree on (because it makes sense and takes into account most people’s needs and concerns)?! That level of maturity would be nice…

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Rules vs Priorities

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We live in a world that likes rules. We have ‘zero tolerance’ for fighting in school (one of my pet-peeves because the child being bullied is usually the one caught and punished the worst…), etc. But is this the best way to live?

God does not live by ‘rules.’

As we see in the Bible there are always times when God made exceptions. For a BIG exceptions see when God did not punish the women for prostitution as it was kind of the men’s fault in Hosea 4:14….

So then how do we live?

By the Holy Spirit!

But when in doubt, a list of priorities helps.

So ask yourself what is your first priority in any situation.

When dealing with your children it may be a good heart attitude. If your child fails a test because they spent their study time trying to convince a friend not to do something horrible and to do the right thing (and this is not a pattern of excuses used for not studying) then maybe we let this one go.

When dealing with your spouse, the priority is to strengthen your marriage. So when they do not load the dishwasher to your specifications or they do not wash your favorite shirt for when you wanted it, maybe we let this go and understand that they may have been working on another priority even you would agree should take precedence.

Rules are not bad, but they need to be flexible.

Too often we hold onto the rules as ‘right’ and forget why they were there to begin with.

For example, how many poems and wall-hangings have you seen reminding you that a clean house is not as important as time spent with your children? There is a reason for this. The older generation, who in the past liked to cross stitch etc was trying to impart wisdom to the younger generation. Sure, a clean house is nice, and to some level necessary, but it needs to take a back seat to being an involved parent who actually knows their kid. Children grow up so fast (trust me on this one!) that it would be a shame to not be the most important influence in their lives. When you obey the rules blindly you often prioritize things that truly don’t matter as much, such as house-keeping and work and lose the opportunity to bond with your child…

Don’t let your children grow up to resent you for not being there.

Don’t let your spouse distance her/himself because all of your rules are hard to deal with.

Be there for the people you love and make sure your priorities, not your rules, determine what you do next.

Making a list of your priorities and putting on a fridge or mirror is sometimes a good way to start.

You Think Wrong

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The other day I was reminiscing with someone (I have forgotten whom.. sorry) and I recounted a story about the Amish community taking down a barn for us in exchange for the trusses. The person I was speaking with informed me that I did not get the better end of this deal, as trusses are worth a lot of money. A while later I pondered that thought, as I know the Amish we interacted with would be deeply, deeply offended if anyone thought they would cheat another human being. (Some Amish may be different, but our friends would be offended.)

So I thought about the situation, and about what the Amish we knew would say. While I cannot be sure, one phrase came to mind… Their answer, “You think wrong.”

So, how do we ‘think wrong?’

We forget that life is not all about money. That things only have the worth we assign to them and that value is really arbitrary.

In my world, I had a decrepit barn that was dangerous and in need of taking down. If we had done it ourselves, it would have taken much of our time (much more than the Amish took since this is not where our skills lie) and we could have potentially hurt ourselves (as I said, we were not skilled in this area). Further, we would have buried and burned the trusses. We would not have taken the time and care to salvage them, and did not know their worth. We also wanted the job done right and well. (The Amish have a reputation for doing this.) Further, we liked the idea of our trusses eventually being a part of an Amish barn and we liked the Amish.

This is the intangible. The sense of community, the sense of good will and peace you get from working and trading with people you like and respect. Too many times I have made money, but from situations that have left me frustrated and stressed. Money is not the only factor one should consider in life. While one needs money to live (sort of- the Amish do well with less….), one must also consider other things. It is better to end the day feeling good, satisfied with how you lived, then to go to bed with a few extra dollars in your pocket.

The Amish community had a need, and we had a need. We helped each other out and enjoyed our interactions. What better way to spend a day?

Forgiveness

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Jewish tradition teaches that we must attempt to reconcile with a person 3 times. And, the person who is being asked to forgive must struggle within themselves to forgive us. If, after 3 times that person cannot forgive then the process is over and the person seeking reconciliation may stop trying. The person who cannot forgive is written off as a ‘cruel person’ and life goes on.

This is not what Jesus says.

Jesus says we must forgive 7 time 70 times.

If the person is truly seeking forgiveness (not mere lip service while doing whatever they want on the side- Proverbs tells us to avoid them while they are still like that), then we must continue to try to work on the relationship.

It will be hard- hence the need to keep forgiving. The past will come back to mind- and we must forgive again. There will be stumbles, and we must forgive. BUT, if the person is trying to reconcile and is truly repentant, the process is to go on, and on, and on….

Relationships are important in God’s world.

BUT, they need to be good ones.

The unrepentant who are angry, the purposely foolish, the selfish, the lazy are still to face consequences and be avoided. You are not a doormat needing to be unnecessarily hurt.

But these consequences are not meant to be cruel, but to cause a life change so that repentance is possible.

Everything is about restoring relationships to a healthy status.

Examine your broken relationships and ask:

Is the person repentant?

Are they trying to change?

If they are- help them!

If they are not, look to scripture. Find the problem in Proverbs and avoid the person if necessary. Sometimes we enable people to stay as they are because they are getting what they want from us, which is sometimes a free, no consequence, punching bag to let out their frustrations on.

Don’t be the punching bag, but don’t be the cruel person who will not reconcile with a person trying to do better either.

When confused, ask a wise- been there, done that, type person who has no emotional involvement in the situation for help.

Who not to ask for help?

People who are emotionally involved in the situation (or a similar situation).

Why: They have their own baggage, which will cloud their judgment. It is difficult to help someone forgive, when you are struggling to forgive. It is also difficult to tell someone to stay strong and avoid a cruel person, when you, yourself are enabling them. So, if you are contemplating divorce, find people who have struggled and overcome, not those who are in the same boat. Misery loves company, but it is a placebo and it does not do us any good in the end.

People who have never faced a similar situation.

Sometimes we encounter people who have families so perfect it makes you want to barf. These people have likely never encountered the type of people you are dealing with. Though sometimes they have dealt with these problems and have overcome your situation so it is good to do some research because this is exactly who you need to ask!

So who do you ask?

Someone who can be objective who knows something about what you are going through. Fortunately (unfortunately?) our world is so messed us these people are not hard to find…

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